Falls among older adults are prevalent, dangerous, and can diminish the ability to lead an active and independent life. I should know as I lost my mother in 2014 to a fall at home that resulted in an inoperable brain bleed and death.
According to the National Council on Aging, one in three seniors above age 65, and nearly one in two seniors over age 80, will fall at least once this year, many times with disastrous consequences. The consequences of falls is of such concern that healthcare providers are required to ask their Medicare patients if they have had greater than two falls within the past year, or any fall resulting in injury.
If the answer is yes to either of these questions, the healthcare provider must examine the patient to determine the cause of falling and develop a treatment plan to diminish the falls risk. Oftentimes at this juncture, a referral is made to a physical therapist, if the patient is not already under the care of a therapist.
Physical therapists are viewed as experts in falls risk assessment and the development of individualized treatment plans including exercise and activities for strength, endurance, mobility, and balance.
If you are aware of someone with a balance or falls issue, do yourself and that person a favor by referring them to a physical therapist. It may be the best thing you ever did.
Ewing native Richard Stoneking has been a physical therapist in West Trenton and Lambertville since 1979. In addition to private practice, Stoneking brings a broad background of experience to his patients having worked in the home health, hospital acute care, and skilled nursing settings.